spacesituationalawarenessnearearthobjectsnodefullimage2What should humanity do the next time a space rock threatens Earth? European officials recently spent two days figuring out possible ways to respond to such a scenario, with the aim of drawing up effective procedures before the danger actually materializes. The first-of-its-kind simulation considered what to do if an asteroid similar to, or larger than, the one that exploded over Russia in February 2013 — which was about 62 feet (19 meters) wide — came close to Earth. Officials focused on activities ranging from 30 days to 1 hour before a potential impact.  “There are a large number of variables to consider in predicting the effects and damage from any asteroid impact, making simulations such as these very complex,” Detlef Koschny, head of near-Earth-object activities at the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness office, said in a statement. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)] “These include the size, mass, speed, composition and impact angle,” he added. “Nonetheless, this shouldn’t stop Europe from developing a comprehensive set of measures that could be taken by national civil authorities, which can be general enough to accommodate a range of possible effects.” More